Irattachira Kovilakam of Thrissur – A fading chapter from the past

When you pass through High Road near Shaktan Nagar, you can see the go-down of Kerala Medical Service Corporation. Medicine equivalent to 13 crore rupees can be preserved here, before it reaches hospitals and medical shops. But a board in front of the building suggests that this place is declared as a ‘Protected Monument’ by Government of Kerala under the provision of Kerala Ancient Monument and Archeological Survey. Then only we can understand that this building under the control of state government which preserves medicine, actually has a historic link with glorious yesterdays of King’s rule. It’s very sad to see, a heritage home of great significance with deep links to Shaktan Thampuran is diminishing in front of our eyes due to negligence and lack of proper caring.

Irattachira Kovilakam

What’s the link of Irattachira Kovilakam with Kochi rulers?

Irattachira Kovilakam has significance equivalent to palace of Shaktan Thampuran at Chembukavu. The Kovilakam (ancestral home or palace) has two wings on either sides, and that’s the reason why it came to be known by the name, Irattachira Kovilakam. There was also one pond in front of the building with name, Irattachira.  As per historic books, this Kovalakam was constructed in the 17th century. Hence it holds some of the glorious reminiscence of the past. Kovilakam is situated in the property of about 1.5 acres. Perumbadappu Mooppil – the eldest member (Karanavar) of all Thaavazhis of Perumbadappu Swaroopam (Kochi Kingdom) used to visit this place and stay here.

What’s the connection of Shaktan Thampuran with Irattachira?

The room used by Shakthan Thampuran to check accounts

The whole records of accounting books of Kochi Kingdom were preserved in this place, and the elder member of the family had the control over it. For the same reason Kochi ruler Maharaja Rama Varma Shaktan Thampuram used to regularly visit the place and check the account books. Apart from administration, Kovilakam has a deep link with his personal life also.

Shakthan Thampuran remarried years after the death of his first wife. His second wife was Karimpatta Chimmukutti. She used to regularly come and bath in Irattachita, a pond in front of this Kovilakom. As she didn’t belong to Kshatriya caste, he couldn’t take her to palace. So she stayed at Irattachira Kovilakam. Walls were constructed that time by adding sand to give extra protection to the building and prevent thefts. But now it’s now not sure how long this heritage is going to stay. Negligence is the main reason why this heritage home is already under threat.

No steps taken to preserve this heritage construction

Interior of Irattachira Kovilakam

After the death of Shaktan Thampuran, Chimmukutti continued to stay here. She stayed in Irattachira till her death. Later her relatives handed over the properties to government, which was later taken over by health department. The first office of District Health Officer was set in Irattachira Kovilakam. In 2008 the building was handed over to KMSCL, and since then it serves as a medical go-down for Government’s health department. The first decision was to fully demolish the building and construct a new building for the purpose. However following the resistance of a few, who are well aware of the historic significance of the building, decision was later made to preserve the building as such.

Later suggestions were made to preserve Irattachira Kovilakam as ‘Protected Monument’ by Archeology department. But in between, certain modifications were made in the building to store medicines. Some associated buildings were added, and Belgium glasses of the Kovilakam were also removed for this purpose.  The expensive Italian floor tiles were replaced by ceramic tiles too.

In 2014, Kovilakam once again came into news, and the need to conserve the heritage home was also raised. Minister of Culture K. C. Joseph visited the place and ensured that the government will take necessary steps. Following that, on 2015 July 25 was declared as ‘Protected Monument’, and a board was also fixed. But since then no steps have been taken, and the Kovilakam is still used as medicine go-down, and office. Ground floor and the building behind the main Kovilakam serve this purpose. The upper floor is retained as such. Yet the roof and building are under threat following the leakage and destructions are done by toddy cats too.

Proper maintenance work has not been done in the recent times. Archaeological department states that though government has declared it as protected monument, documentation process is not completed and the building is not handed over yet. Kovilakom is still under the control of KMSCL, and they use the property for official uses. The building is under threat, and if sufficient steps not taken now, we can witness yet another historic monument slowly fading away from our eyes without leaving any traces.

Also read: Ammachis and Ammaveedu of old Travancore  and PWD Rest House at Chembukavu to stay for 300 rs/day

You can read a few more articles on Thrissur – The Cultural Capital of Kerala. Click on the images in the gallery to read

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A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

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